Video: Jaquan Lyle in his first sectional game

PRINCETON, Ind. — Jaquan Lyle played like a freshman during the first half of Tuesday’s sectional opener against Boonville. No way around it — he was timid and had trouble getting into a flow within the offense.

His play improved during the second half, though, and he finished with six points and seven assists in Evansville Bosse’s 72-58 win against Boonville in the first round of the Princeton sectional.

“He was very nervous,” Bosse coach Shane Burkhart said. “And you can’t do anything but understand from a coaching standpoint. Good gravy, he’s 14. Just turned 15. You can’t expect him to come out all the time and do what’s right.”

Lyle did not score during the first half and had only one assist. But he responded, finding his teammates throughout the second half and then making two jump shots of his own (plus a free throw). He wasn’t throwing up every shot he could either — he was 2-of-5 from the field.

The 6-foot-4 Lyle played everything from point guard in power forward. In some respects, he is similar to Lawrence Central junior Jeremy Hollowell, who likes the Evan Turner comparison himself. Lyle is long and lanky enough to go inside and play against teams (especially smaller ones like Boonville) but also has the guard skills to work on the perimeter.

“He wasn’t in the flow of the game and he’s such an intelligent player that he can find other avenues to help us and he did a very nice job of doing that offensively,” Burkhart said.

Burkhart, to his credit, has made it a point to ground Lyle as much as it possible to ground him — the freshman already has offers from Indiana and Illinois, and Ohio State recently showed up in Evansville to scout him. To that end, Lyle is not available to talk with the media.

“He’s doing a great job but man it’s tough,” Burkhart said. “You got people calling you, you got people wanting to do this and this for you and you got everybody on your shoulders, it is kinda like the weight of the world. Sometimes, I tell him to just turn his phone off. Turn his Internet off.

“Just be a kid. If he continues to just be a kid, basketball is going to take care of itself.”

4 comments

  1. No defense and no blocking out….. I know just a freshman, but no playing off of his man on weak side. Has not clue where his man his. Fundamentals. Needs a lot coaching the next 3 years.

  2. Is any freshman ball player worth this kind of attention? I’ve read quite a bit in your columns criticizing the culture of recruiting, the damage done to the values of these children (and, they are children, aren’t they?), the negative damage of the individual’s self perception, the sense of entitlement fostered…and now you write a major story about this 14 or 15 year-old, use major column space and promote the practice with a video on your blog.

    Consistency becomes a major issue. For the journalist…!

    The coach said it: “…you can’t do anything but understand from a coaching standpoint. Good gravy, he’s 14… You can’t expect him to come out all the time and do what’s right.”

    He’s right. But, I can expect the adults to at least consider doing right. I can expect the coach to protect the child Jacquan from this abuse (and it is abuse in the making), filter all contacts, block the ‘street reps’ and refuse to make comments to the press.

    And, I can expect the IHSAA; and, in particular the NCAA and the Big Ten to monitor and weigh over the propriety of any contact and/or statements or publicity regarding any player below the junior year in high school.

    (Though, I will give you that my expectation is that the NCAA’s conflict-of-interests in the exploitation of vulnerable barely post-puberty teenagers in this form of human trading is too much of a temptation for college presidents who run this institution whose the profit-share arrangement in intercollegiate basketball will likely turn their concern into a wink and a subtle nod while the cash registers go “chink! chink!” in the ticket managers office and the athletic directors and coaches to whom they delegate that interest contact the sporting good companies in Oregon or Germany.

    While they droop the saliva ad the TV money and say to themselves: “Just do it!”

    And you Hugh?, as a journalist…you will have to make the choice of participating in the public relations/marketing functions of this trade in human beings or become a real voice of decency.

    There will be no innocents.

  3. I’ve been trying to bring back the expression “good gravy.” And good gravy, it worked!

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